Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Just Lied To A Samurai

Ugh, so I like the Olympics, but I hate what the Olympics have done to the TV schedule. Just about everything is in reruns rather than go against the Winter Juggernaut. Lucky for us, Lost fears no such quadrennial behemoth.

And it's a Jack episode! We start out with Alterna-Jack, changing after a day of work and just now noticing his appendix scar. In the "normal" timeline, it came out on the island. In this reality, he had it out when he was a kid (although they wouldn't let his dad do the operation...because he was drunk?). Oh, and Jack has a son. Whaaaaaaa?

Back on the Island, Hurley and Miles are playing a hilarious game of Tic Tac Toe (which I'm sure means something, but the sight of them tossing found objects onto a grid of sticks just amused me greatly), then Jacob's ghost shows up to give Hurley a few honey-do's and tells him to bring Jack along for the ride. Why? Because some people have to find the island, and Hurley's gonna help them.


Jack and David do some non-bonding. David's copy of Alice in Wonderland is shown, and David seems distracted and...well, like all teenagers. Jack sucks at parenting, and bails to go help mom look for dad's will. Which they find. And it mentions Claire.

Oh yes, Claire. Well, she's gone all Rousseau, complete with the hair, and she's been waging a provate war with the Temple Others because she thinks they have Aaron. She patches up Jin and ties up one of the Temple Others she shot two episodes ago. Later, Claire threatens to go nuts with an axe, and mentions her "friend". And not the creepy baby she made out of bones and fur and who knows what else. As she's about to go all Annie Wilkes on the Other, Jin tells Claire that Kate has Aaron. Claire kills the Other anyway, then comes back later, when Jin tells her that he lied and that Aaron really is at the Temple. Huh? Claire flat out says that if Kate really had been raising Aaron, then she'd kill her. Ooh, future catfight! Oh yes, and Claire's mystery friend is Evil Locke.

Meanwhile, Alternate Jack comes home to no son. After going to his mother's house and doing a little parental P.I. work, he heads to a school where his son is auditioning for some fancy music conservatory. Also, the samurai is there! Small world. Jack and son have a heart to heart out by the bike rack, and now Everything's Going To Be Okay. So I guess they're setting up that Jack's life is going to be fairly kick ass if the Alternate reality becomes/is/whatever the only reality. Foreshadowing!

So that leaves us with Jack and Hugo's Excellent Adventure, complete with a trip back to the Season 1 cave! Hurley espouses another humorous internet theory (that they time traveled again and the bones in the cave are their bones), then Jack finds his dad's empty coffin, which he smashed real good all the way back in the day. They make it to the Lighthouse, and go upstairs so Hurley can do what he needs to do. However, as Hurley adjusts the mirrors (to 108 degrees, naturally), Jack sees a glimpse of his house at 23 degrees (which is the setting marked next to his name...all the markings have names associated with them), then has an Ann Margret freakout and smashes all the mirrors. Jacob pops in at the end to talk to Hurley and explain that this was all for Jack's benefit. For why? Well, there's a finite amount of episodes with which to explain that, and I have a feeling that this is all settling in to be a battle between Jack and Locke for "all the marbles". Good episode though, and I'm liking the way things are going between the two realities.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh Holy Crap, Leverage!

Wow, just wow. As far as season finales go, that was right up there with the greats. Last week, we had the team narrowly escaping from an FBI trap, then the big reveal that Sterling was now on the case. We also had a corrupt mayor and a gunned down cop to deal with.

We start things off with Team Leverage as the focus of a manhunt. Nate figures that the best place to hide is the last place anyone would be looking for them; the hotel where the mayor (aka, FBI snitch) is being kept. The team makes their way into an empty room (thanks to a naked Tara...well played) and Hardison turns the computer checkout system into his own personal hacking station. A couple of nifty cons later, and the team is set up, then makes their move..Let's Steal A Mayor.

Parker in a maid outfit: excellent. Hardison getting tangled up in the rappeling rope: even better. They con the mayor into giving up his arms connection (Paul Blackthorne, who also played Harry Dresden in the way-too-short adaptation of The Dresden Files), thanks to Hardison as a suited thug with a HORRENDOUS Irish accent. Just dreadful. Hilariously so, though.

The team is ready to just turn things over to the pros, but Nate thinks he can still beat the guys involved, so he sends the team off to work while he heads back to the apartment, where Sterling is waiting. Nate left an old drawing of his son's behind, and that's how Sterling knew that he'd come back there. Very sneaky. Sterling offers Nate a deal: help him catch the arms dealer, and Nate walks while the rest of his team gets sent to jail. Not a great deal, but as Sterling points out, he's the only one of them that isn't a thief. Nate appears to mull it over. Meanwhile, Tara makes an ominous phone call. OMINOUS.

Oh yes, and Nate calls Sophie, spilling his guts out to her, only she can't hear him because she's on a helicopter. Great scene, great acting by Mr. Hutton.

Once they start the final con, there are some great moments. Tara, Parker, and Hardison break into the FBI to destroy the evidence that they have on the team. Hardison finds a photo of Tara meeting with the arms dealer, which causes Parker (who already has trust issues) to grab her by the throat and hold her off of a building. That's hardcore Parker right there. Nate and Elliot go on the boat to continue the con of Nate as Mr. Git, only the whole thing almost falls apart when the mayor gets loose and calls the arms dealer. Luckily for Nate, Sophie chooses that time to make her reappearance into the show. Go Sophie! It's about damn time too. Elliot proceeds to take out a whopping thirteen henchmen, then the look that he and Hardison give each other is just priceless as they realize Sophie is on the boat. Everything ends up with the mayor and the arms dealer locked into the boat's cabin together with a cargo hold full of evidence and the FBI on the way. Time enough for a happy reunion with Sophie, who actually gets a hug from Parker (great line from Sophie: "Parker's touching people?"). Tara bails, and the team is about to helicopter away when...Sterling shows up. Nate (who is, by this point, bleeding) cuffs himself to the rail, then tells Sterling all about how he's reversed the deal on him. By destroying all of his evidence against the arms dealer, Nate is the only witness who can help put him away, but only if the rest of the team goes free. They reluctantly go, and as Nate slumps to the deck from his gunshot wound, the FBI agent asks who he is. Sterling tries to play him off as no one, but Nate insists "My name is Nate Ford. And I'm a thief". Pow! There's your season 2 ladies and gentlemen. Sophie is back, Nate has finally come to terms with who he has become, and he appears to like it. Where do we go from here? That is a question for season 3, which had better occur pretty damn quick. I need my Leverage fix, yo.

Thursday coming soon, depending on how the Olympics mess with the schedule.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lost in a House

I know, it was lame. However, most shows appear to be in reruns this week, rather than go up head to head against the juggernaut of the Winter Olympiad. However, I was able to scrape together a couple of viewings; tonight's Lost, and last week's House.

I'll start with House, as it was a departure from the norm. Just as we had "Wilson" from the perspective of House's only friend, tonight brings us "5 to 9", the length of Cuddy's day. Cuddy is an odd character, written as one note some weeks, and depthy in others. Sometimes her and House look like an item, sometimes she's just the mean old boss lady standing in the way of him and awesome doctoring. This episode loaded her plate up with many many obstacles, the biggest of which was whether or not to terminate their contract with the insurance company who handles most of their business. Cuddy stuck to her guns, was about to resign for screwing up, but then the insurance company blinked and gave in to her demands. Honestly, this felt like a huge copout, having her on the way to giving up before the situation resolves itself. Would have expected something more proactive from her, but this almost felt like a lucky break just landed in her lap. Some of the other bits were amusing: Using a hidden microphone to trick the meth-stealing pharmacy tech (and what a bitch!) into digging her own grave, playing hardball with Thumb Guy, all while dealing with House's usual antics. The episode did do one thing well: make us realize why the show is called "House" and not "Cuddy". They tried to pack way too much in, and while it worked to show us what Cuddy goes through to have her life and her job, it didn't make for a great hour of television.

Lost, on the other hand, was a lot better, although still moving at a mellow pace. Tonight was the Locke episode, and we get to see the ramifications of his pre-815 actions in this no-crash timeline. He comes back bitter (although still with Helen), gets fired for using company money to take his walkabout, runs into Hurley (who just bought the company...and a temp agency (where Rose works!)...and of course, Mr Cluck's), and has the worst luck with his van. Locke, on the island, was always the believer (as Ben pointed out in his eulogy). However, off the island, he is the cynic. There are no miracles in Locke's non-island world, which may be the greatest tragedy of the alternate timeline. At the end though, he gets a job substitute teaching, where he runs into Ben, of all people, who is also teaching. So, is this destiny that all of these people are fated to meet? Or just amazing coincidence?

Meanwhile, back on the island, Not-Locke and Sawyer go on a walkabout of their own. A boy who looks an awful lot like Jacob pops up a couple of times, telling Not-Locke that he "isn't allowed to kill them". The game is still running? They make their way down the World's Most Rickety Ladder (where Not-Locke saves Sawyer's life, probably) into a spooky cave which holds a balanced scale with one white and one black rock on it. Not-Locke takes the white rock off the scale and whips it into the ocean ( "Private joke", he explains), then leads Sawyer into the real part of the cave; a room with many names chalked onto the walks and ceiling. These are the "candidates", people who have the potential to take over for Jacob as protector of the island. They are Jack, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin or Sun, Locke (who gets crossed off on account of death), and Sayid. Even better, the names are all numbered, and if you really need me to tell you the numbers of the six names remaining, then you obviously have never watched this show. The episode ends with Not-Locke offering Sawyer the chance for the two of them to leave the island, to which Sawyer responds with an emphatic "Hell yes". And scene.

Well, if you wanted to know what the numbers were, now you know. Big question, interesting answer. Obviously Not-Locke isn't telling the whole story, and Sawyer obviously won't be taken in by the lies. Where do we go from here? Seven days, and we'll find out. Leverage season finale tomorrow!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The beans are made out of guns

Mmmmm...what a delicious Leverage tonight. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw that series creator John Rogers wrote tonight's episode. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present...Part 1 of the season finale.

The client this week is Team Leverage's favorite cop, a lieutenant who is the go-to guy when a job needs to end with the mark in cuffs. He's been shot up by FBI agents (or "agents") after he shows them a thick file regarding the corrupion of the mayor, played by "Spin City"'s Richard Kind. No one plays weaselly better than him. Nate goes to visit the cop's wife in the hospital, sees his son, and has flashbacks to his own son (i.e., the reason Nate is currently Nate). We cut to Nate leaving (likely drunken) phone messages for Sophie, rambling on and on until Tara shows up to take him upstairs to plan the job. The gig seems simple enough; trick the mayor into giving them a bribe (in this case, to build a baseball stadium on land he secretly owns), then use that to set him up and get him caught by the good guys. Lot of funny bits in this episode: Parker complaining about never getting to do anything fun (right before jumping off a bridge), Tara taking over Sophie's mentor role while walking Parker through a con, Elliot going from baseball hater to power hitting local hero, Hardison and Parker hitting all the local sports talk shows in order to spread rumors about the local team moving, and probably a couple more I missed. The con turns sour at the end, as it turns out that the mayor is an FBI snitch. Some quick thinking (and the sacrifice of Hardison's beloved van) gets the team out of the trap, but their troubles aren't over yet...because here comes Sterling. James Sterling, Interpol.

And "To Be Continued". Awesome cliffhanger, as the team has to recover from a loss, and now they're being pursued by Sterling backed by the FBI (and his own considerable authority at this point). I don't think I'm spoiling anything when I say that this is the perfect situation for Sophie to make her return in, so next week's episode should be extra sweet.

Thursday comedies/Burn Notice may be a little late, I've got tickets to see Michael Ian Black (of the very underrated "Stella") and then I'm going to Austin to see "Web Soup"'s Chris Hardwick do standup. I'll likely have reviews of those up here once I get back.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Babies and Poison!

Well, that's all I got out of tonight's LOST anyway. Don't get me wrong, I'm not turning on the show or anything, but after last week's two hours of OMG'ing all over the place, this episode fell a little flat. Not terrible flat, just like going to work the day after your birthday. Everything was all exciting and crazy, now you have to settle in. And what better to settle in with than a Kate episode. Sigh...

Okay, I don't hate Kate, I swear. She's just not all that interesting to me, and so when the show focuses on her, my focus drifts elsewhere. It probably happened back in the early days, when Jack and Sawyer were the Archie and Reggie fighting over her freckly Veronica (of course, this means Juliet is Betty). So, we have three main storylines tonight: Alternate Universe Kate escaping from The Man, Island Kate escaping from The Others, and then The Mystery of the Resurrected Sayid.

First off, AU Kate. Still cuffed, she hijacks a taxi, terrifying the driver and the passenger...a very pregnant Claire. After the driver bails out at a red light, Kate takes over the wheel, then kicks Claire out (after demanding her purse...what a bitch) and drives to the local friendly auto shop owner, who of course doesn't mind taking Kate's handcuffs off with no questions asked. Kate goes through Claire's bag for a change of clothes (not stopping to realize that it'll be nothing but "Baby on Board" maternity stuff and Kajagoogoo t-shirts), but finds baby stuff instead (umm, Kate? You did see that huge belly on her, right? Did you think she was just coming from a hot dog eating contest?), feels bad, and goes back to where she kicked Claire out to give her stuff back and offer her a ride. Claire and Kate pull up at the house of the couple who was supposed to adopt Claire's baby, only to find out that the husband ran out on the wife (who wants to wager on the husband being an Other or Dharma guy or something like that?) and so the lady has to say thanks but no thanks to the little bundle of joy. Oh Claire, don't you know you're supposed to call "no backsies" when giving your baby up for adoption on the other side of the planet?

So Claire freaks out, which causes the baby to hit the eject button and start clawing his way to freedom (and a gig on an E-Trade ad, most likely). Kate, the Most Helpful Carjacker Ever, drives Claire to the hospital and hangs out with her while ETHAN ROM!!! does an ultrasound and offers to induce labor. Claire blurts out Aaron's name (which just "came to her"), and her and Kate have smiley lady bonding. And that's about it.

Meanwhile, back on the island, Sawyer gets his gun and checks out of Camp Other. Kate offers to go bring him back, but it's just her cunning plan to escape, thanks to one of Russo's traps, and the worst guards ever; one of which knows her from the first time she escaped from jail. Small world! She heads back to Dharmaville and sees Sawyer being all mopey about Juliet and the life he left behind. Meanwhile, Jin has gone looking for Sun, only he gets caught up to by the old guards. Just as he's about to get capped by one of them, the dude gets Island Claire! Welcome back, Island Claire!

Back at the Hidden Temple, Sayid gets dragged away by some Others to be "tested", which looks a lot like "tortured", 24-style. Jack busts in for some answers, and the guy in charge gives him some medicine to give to Sayid, to get rid of the "infection" that is supposedly inside of him, post-resurrection. Jack refuses, and asks what's in it. Not getting an answer, he swallows it, then gets it kung-fu chopped right back out of his esophagus because...IT'S POISON!!! Yep, apparently some dark mojo got all up inside Sayid, and will slowly take over his mind/body...just like it did to Jack's sister. Sister? Oh yeah, Claire. Island Claire. Who hangs out with Jack's dead dad. Yeah, shit just got real.

So where are we at? Kate's on the run, Claire's back on the show, Sayid may be turning evil, and Sawyer is sad. Nothing from Locke and the Shadow of the Statue gang this week, which will hopefully be rectified soon. It's a long season though, and we'll need patience to get through it. Answers, they are a'coming. See you back here for Leverage!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mondays Are No Longer Huge!

Yes that's right, Mondays have now been diminished (well, some would say improved) because Heroes is over for the season, maybe even forever. No slight against How I Met Your Mother or Castle, because both of those shows knocked it out of the park tonight (especially a baseball themed Castle), but Heroes was one of the reasons I started this blog (mostly to rant about it) and now it is done with. Before the Heroes post-mortem, let's talk of happier times.

How I Met Your Mother: I was watching the Super Bowl and caught the bit with Barney in the stands holding a sign with his phone number on it. If you called, you got a phone message like this:

Hopefully the link still works, but it's a cute recording of Barney telling you to meet him at MacLaren's Pub at a certain time and date (the one in the video is October of 2016). Funny bit, and I wondered if it would pay off on tonight's episode...and boy did it ever. The episode kicks off with Barney's sign, leading to his "magic phone" which is constantly ringing (with possibly the most annoying ring tone ever) from hot women who are calling. Quick aside; wouldn't some of the women be not hot? Or curious guys? Or curious gays? Anyway, logic aside, this leads to Barney being slowly driven insane with an unending stream of girls to score with, only he can't bring himself to settle on one long enough to do the deed, worried that there's a hotter one calling every time the phone rings. Also, since this is the Valentine's Day episode as well as the Super Bowl episode, Ted and Robin get romance related storylines. Robin's is about her co-anchor Don, who asks her over to his place on a date/to a party (depending on who you ask). Robin doesn't want to go, but the rest of the gang can tell that she likes him (or is just giving her shit about it), leading to the most confusing, yet most epic, sequence this show has possibly ever given us: the rabbit or duck argument. Ted brings out one of those optical illusions where it looks like a rabbit, but also looks like a duck (for the record, I saw duck first, and it took me a good 10 seconds to see the rabbit). The theory is that she thinks he's a rabbit (which is bad), but that he's actually a duck (which is good). The hilarity comes when Marshall pipes up that he thinks rabbits are way more awesome than ducks, which leads to a fast-forwarded argument in which the other three at the table debate/bully Marshall into changing his opinion. So many great lines in that scene, go watch it (or watch it again if you've already seen it) and enjoy.

As for Ted, he gives Marshall and Lily free reign to set up an arranged marriage date for him (thanks to the input of Ranjit, who, between the knitting and carrying Barney out of the bar, was comedy gold tonight) for Valentine's Day...which they forget about. Before the date, Ted accompanies Robin to Don's party, which just turns out to be Don doing "The Naked Man".. Whooo!!! Callbacks!!! Ted bails for his date, which in classic HIMYM flashback fashion, is revealed to be someone from the magic phone which Marshall and Lily had taken away from Barney. Ted (or should I say, Teddy Westside) falls under the spell of the phone before Lily dunks it in a pitcher of beer, ending the madness. Robin comes to work to find that Don has had a change of heart regarding his job (and even wore pants), and that should take us into some Don/Robin relationship stories for the next few weeks. Great episode.

Castle was also great tonight, going back to those basics that it does so well. The plots are your basic procedural stuff, well done but with all the twists in the right spots. I don't say that in a bad way; Castle does a lot with the procedural, but it's the small bits that make the show so good. I'm not always a fan of stunt casting, but Beckett being starstruck by meeting Joe Torre was such an adorable character moment for her that it just made the scene. My favorite bit though was back at the station when Esposito and Ryan are tossing a baseball back and forth while talking over the case with Beckett. Castle enters with his coffee, they toss the ball to him, and he misses the catch by a mile, sending the ball off to who knows where and he keeps talking without even acknowledging the miss. Small moment, huge character moment, and had me cracking up. Also present was perhaps the seeds of a larger storyline as we learn (through Alexis' genealogy project) that Castle doesn't know who his father is. Whether it leads to anything or not, it still led to a sweet moment at the end between Castle and Alexis, a duo who haven't been together as much in recent episodes, but which provides a lot of heart to a genre that doesn't normally go for it.

Oh, and RAY WISE!!! I know the whole "I'm calling my expensive lawyer" thing is pretty standard when the bad guy gets arrested, but I hold out a tiny shred of hope that the finale can involve Ray Wise trying to have the case thrown out because of Castle's involvement. Probably not a strong story post, but I just want more Ray Wise.

And finally (maybe literally) we come to Heroes. With as much as the plot dragged on all season, they sure didn't waste any time resolving everything in one episode. There's a little thing called pacing, and it works wonders when you're trying to keep your show on the air. Looking back at the season as a whole, there was so much that was just a huge timewaste and had little or nothing to do with the actual ending of the actual story.

We start off with Samuel...and big surprise, he's making a speech. Blah blah blah, oh hey big reveal, they're in Central Park. Not much of a surprise considering that Samuel was all "let's all go to Central Park" at the end of last week's episode. Samuel uses Doyle to force Emma to play Pied Piper (okay, Pied Cellist) and gather people around the Carnival.

Couple of quick thoughts: A) It's a carnival in the middle of Central Park, how much extra magic power voodoo do you need to get a crowd? B) Did they file the proper permits? Is there a "special" there with the ability to push through New York State bureaucracy? Not even one scene of a couple of cops asking around and getting taken out by Samuel? The guy is supposed to be evil by this point...SHOW US EVIL!!! He's a dirty Irish guy who loves the sound of his own voice and can control the weak minded...he's Bono, not Bin Laden.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Claire and HRG are stuck underground in a trailer thanks to Magnet-O', and quickly running out of air. Well, HRG is, Claire will apparently keep regenerating her lungs. Now, I'm no doctor, but I don't think "regenerating lungs" is the same as "getting air to her brain", but what do I know, I don't have a low-rated NBC series. Anyway, HRG almost gets to leave the show by dying with dignity, but Deus Ex Tracy shows up long enough to rescue them, draw a paycheck, then see if Doritos is still hiring. Oh hey, and the helicopter just showed up too! See what I mean about pacing? That could have been an episode of "trying to escape, having a heart to heart talk, Tracy rescues them", then the "go to carnival, do things there" stuff would be in the finale. Instead, they're rescued before we even have time to care about whether HRG might not make it.

Meanwhile, Parkman makes a sandwich. Well, he tries to, but the Human Xerox Machine is there, and they gang up on Parkman. Just before they can make him eat a turd, Peter and New Sylar knock out the Xerox Prime and the clones disappear. Parkman takes either way too long or way too short to be convinced enough of Sylar's change of heart. Oh, and speaking of heart...okay, so Parkman looks inside Sylar's mind to see if he's really repented. Parkman isn't convinced though, because "he's seen inside his mind, but not his heart". Oh give me a fucking break! This must have been written by the same anatomy expert who gave us Claire's magical regenerating lungs.

Now we go to Hiro, who has made a full recovery from his brain surgery/psychic trial/acid trip and is ready to just hop out of bed and do whatever it is he does. Luckily, the Plot Advancing Nurse comes in to tell Hiro what to do next, rather than force his actions to occur naturally within the story. It's an note from Charlie and she's an old lady! TWIST! Turns out, Samuel hid Charlie in the 40's where she lived out her life. In Milwaukee in the 40's. But now she's in the same hospital as Hiro for no reason other than to help out a lazy writer who just wants to get this season over with, apparently. Hiro offers to fix things, but Charlie has had a good Hiro-free life and doesn't want to psychically murder her offspring by undoing all the time travel nonsense. Charlie, must be the most tolerant character on all of television. Seriously, she gets taken away from her life, sent back to an era that doesn't have the internet or cable, and doesn't seem bitter at all. If you set her hair on fire, she'd probably be all "Oh, my hair's on fire...well, it was getting a little chilly in here". For that matter, Charlie has the ability to remember everything she's ever read right? And she's 60 years in the past, right? Shouldn't she be the richest woman alive from playing the stock market? Or from betting on sports (The Biff Tannen Method)? Or inventing stuff? I can understand hiding her superpower from people, but hiding foreknowledge of the next 65 years of history? Yeah, I know it goes into all the "don't mess with the past" stuff that Hiro's always babbling on about, but this is seriously just crap. Hiro and Charlie do the best they can with the material, and Hiro saying goodbye is a nice bittersweet moment, but it's nestled in a big basket of lazy crap writing. Just as they finish up, Ando gets the "it's time to wrap this crapfest up" call on the special Heroes Hotline or something, and they teleport to Central Park.

So now we have all of our players (well, all the players that didn't get ignored all season) together in Central Park, ready to wrap things up. Claire goes to try talking, since that worked so well every other time she's tried it. Oh hey, there's the plant guy! Geez, with that outfit, he was probably better off being homeless. Anyway, so Claire does the whole "catch up the audience on the season" thing, which the carnies are blowing off. Then Ray Park and HRG show up to back her story up, which doesn't do much else more. However, Xerox Guy shows up, and thanks to Parkman's mental instructions, confesses to his part in the shooting of Lydia. This causes the sheep...I mean carny folk to break up the family and get out of Dodge. Meanwhile, Sylar goes to save Emma from Fat Jeff Dunham, which is predictable and boring. Samuel has a freakout and runs on stage (ooh, to give a speech?) to start the earth-based massacre. Peter flies (flies? did I forget something?) into him and they have an incredibly boring dirt fight and talk about each other's dead brothers for a while. Just long enough for Hiro to show up, teleport everyone away, and then stay gone. Poor Masi Oka...let's get this guy on 24 or something.

So Samuel's power supply is cut off and he's led out in cuffs. Everyone gets to celebrate, and Volume 5 is over. Now here's Volume 6 and...oh crap, Claire's going to do something stupid. Thanks to the conveniently contrived news camera in her face, she decides to speak for everyone else with a power and out herself as a special, Midland-style. At least the climb to the top of the Ferris Wheel took long enough for every other character there to have the chance to react to it. Okay, and seriously? Having everybody just stare dumbly while she climbs? Lame. She lands, she heals, and it's over. Great, now the last thing I'll ever have seen on Heroes is Claire's dumb face staring at me.

Okay, so here's what kills me about this finale: There was no real reason for Sylar to be there to save Emma (or to turn good, for that matter), Hiro was only there as a freaking BUS, Claire and HRG were only in danger for about 8 minutes, and most of the other characters from this season (or seasons past) were just gone for no reason other than not being in the episode. Ensemble shows need ensemble casts, and this cast is Claire and Peter and then some other people who come and go. Sylar is a great character, but he has no consistency. Why should I buy into a reformed Sylar when he's only been reformed for 3 hours and he has a history of turning right back to evil? Why should a petulant and gullible teenage girl get to decide for everybody else that the world needs to know about specials? Why does Peter only have one facial expression? Heroes gave us a lame and boring villain, and lame and boring protagonists to "take him down" with. What did we really get out of this season? Claire might be gay, Peter...nothing, Hiro had a brain tumor and now he doesn't anymore, Sylar is magically good, and Samuel accomplished nothing. The whole season was a interminable march to this point, where the specials are now known about. Great, you spent 5 seasons getting us to Issue #1 of X-Men. If Heroes gets canceled soon, I'll come back with a full obituary of the series. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that it will come back to torment me for another season, so we'll just spend the time until then watching some much better shows.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thursday Ahoy!

Yes, I increasingly suck at titles. Anyway, big Thursday so let's jump right in.

Community: This show keeps getting better, and really does a great job of using its ensemble. Listen up networks and casting people: talented actors make a show good, not big names. Joel McHale and Chevy Chase are the biggest names on this show; Joel (albeit awesome) is most decidedly not a big name (although he should be...he is a big man), and Chevy Chase has been poison for years. Example: Chevy Chase's Comedy Central Roast. They are talented people, with comedy and acting chops, and they are able to come forward or stay back as needed to forward the story or just to pop a big laugh in a particular scene. Case in point: This was an Annie episode. Alison Brie is adorable and awesome, and she nailed it tonight. She becomes wooed by Vaughn (of the tiny nipples), and Britta and Jeff decide (as the ersatz parents of the study group) that they need to break them up for her own good. Comedy ensues, and it all pays off in a big roundtable scene where the last season and a half's worth of subplots, moments, and in-jokes all spills out into one great ensemble scene. The AV Club reviewer compared it to the cast of NewsRadio, which is a pretty apt comparison. The B story of Pierce's inability to crack jokes at terrible movies (which, btw, Channel 101 regular Derek Mears was hilarious as Kickpuncher), and going to the lengths of hiring comedy writers to help him load up for the next screening was just over the top enough to be a good Pierce story. There was nothing I didn't love about this episode, even Vaughn's incredibly dumb, yet somehow oddly touching, soung for Annie. Watch this show!

Parks and Recreation: I've been getting into the comedy of one Mr. Aziz Ansari, and because of that and that alone, I gave Parks and Rec another shot tonight. Honestly, his character was the only one I was into, as Amy Poehler is funny but still not doing it for me in this character. There's a demographic somewhere that this show is for, and somehow I'm not part of it. Might keep watching though, we'll see if it grows on me.

The Office: Finally back after last week's clip show/boot to the crotch. Dunder Mifflin has been bought by Sabre (not pronounced "Sah-bray", by the way), and I loved the effect that restrictive rules have on Michael Scott (and the rest of the office). Twenty trips to the water cooler, site blockers on all the timewasting's going to be torture. Even if you're not a fan of the show, just the indoctrination video starring Christian Slater (seriously, as Christian Slater) is worth tracking down online. Kathy Bates as the head Sabre honcho has merit too, I dig her comedy chops and she'll be a strong personality. The scenes with Michael and David Wallace were funny but sad, which is a kind of comedy I have to be in the mood for, but is something that The Office has been skimping on lately (and what made the British Office so great). All in all, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

30 Rock: Not my favorite episode, although after Community and The Office, it was a little hard for 30 Rock to bat cleanup. It was nice to see Jan Hooks working again, and I hope she comes back as Jenna's mother more often. Jack/Jenna is a pairing the show hardly ever goes with, and shaking up the pairings can only help at this point. Liz and Frank was odd, although the hidden camera footage at the end was gold. Absolute gold. The show does absurd so well, I wonder why they don't just throw off the shackles and embrace it 100%. Well, there's still time.

Finally, Burn Notice was new tonight, and it was a fairly by-the-numbers episode. Small twist with Sugar, Michael's former drug dealing downstairs neighbor being the client, but otherwise it was Michael being helpful. Just once, I'd like to see the client take Michael's very good advice about skipping town...but then the show'd only be half an hour long. Gilroy is becoming much more interesting though, and at a level of ruthlessness that hasn't been seen in a while. The question of why Michael is working his way in so close to him before taking him down is still a glaring one, and I'd like to see Michael get seduced to the dark side. Won't happen, but who cares; it's my damn blog. Mrs. Weston was a hindrance this episode, doing nothing but eating up screen time. The Michael/Mom relationship has to start going somewhere (not in that way you sickos!) and soon, or else I'm going to be straight up wicked bored whenever she pops up on my screen.

That's all for this week. I'm almost done with Veronica Mars, and I'm going to try to get Dollhouse started (restarted) soon enough. Super Bowl this weekend, and then the Heroes finale! Season? Series? Who knows?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Leverage Hills, 90210 (Because I'm too lazy to look up Boston's area code)

Well well well, is that Luke Perry on Leverage? Why yes it is, and he plays a TV psychic/con artist who is bilking people out of their hard earned monies. Time to call in: The L*Team.

Nah, that name isn't going to work. But it is Luke Perry, and just a day after Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the movie) was on. Synchronicity: it is real. So the gang goes to the studio to stake out Mr. Psychic (and ironically, I was watching Psych right before this. Two fake psychics in one night!) and he does a cold read on Parker that freaks her right the hell out. Great acting by Beth Reisgraf and a great way to toss in some exposition about how cold reading works. The team sends in a hippie'd out Tara as a rival psychic, one who "has the Gift" for reals. She gives Luke Perry a psychic reading, which the Leverage Gang proceeds to make come true (complete with Hardison stuffing fortune cookies and a cackling Elliot towing Luke's car away). Not entirely convinced of Tara's powers, LP still decides to take her on as a partner, needing a bigger impact in order to get a network TV deal. Hardison (fueled by gummi frogs and his omnipresent orange soda) does a virtuoso hacking job to feed information to Tara, who "spiritually conveys" it to LP. He does a little too good of a job though, and all of a sudden, LP is in a van. Parker's content to let him get killed, but the team needs to free they can destroy him.

They track him down and find that a criminal wants him to use his psychic powers to track down the money from a bank robbery in which his partner died before revealing the money's hiding place. The team sets up a nice little psychic treasure hunt in order to stall them, then manages to get the two of them into a storage unit for LP to confess that he's a sham, a fraud, a phony, a humbug, etc. Then the wall blows, and he tumbles into his own studio, packed with audience members, who just heard his full confession. Great way to tie it all together, although I'd have to go back and watch again to see if the proximity of the storage unit to the studio came out of nowhere, or was actually setup earlier.

In a nice scene at the end, Nate gives some comforting words to the victim, leading Tara to finally see why the team does what they do. Parker returns the money that the victim had given to Luke Perry, and just when I think that she took it out of her personal stash, she reveals that her and Hardison tracked down the lost bank loot. Ahh Parker, always a thief in the end.

Excellent episode, and with only a few more to go, I do wonder how Sophie will come back into the picture. Meanwhile, Leverage is putting out some great hours of television. Seriously, if you're not watching, go get Season 1 and start catching up. DO IT!!!!

Thursday comedies tonight, and I may have to keep up with new Survivor coming up next week.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oh Lost, How I Missed You So!

Yes, the long (and I do mean loooooooong) wait is over, and the final season of Lost is finally here. And a few months from now (on a Sunday), Lost will exit our lives forever. Well, or so they would have us believe. The series should be over anyway, which is bittersweet. It'll be nice to have all the questions answered, but I really will miss this show. The constant complaints about all the mysteries just bug me though...the whole point of a good mystery is the anticipation of the ending when the case is solved. That's what Lost is, a grand mystery set in four dimensions. Would the polar bear in the first episode have been as awesome if you knew that it just came from a cage on another part of the island? Lost, save for a few blips now and again, has rewarded the faithful viewer, and now comes their final gift to us.

And what a beginning. The bomb blows up, the screen goes white...and Jack's on a plane. Kate's there, Sawyer's there, the whole Lost crew...then the bomb blows up, the screen goes white, and Kate wakes up on the island. Trippy. My best theory (and oh, there will be theories) is that the bomb created some kind of parallel dimension where the Oceanic 6 & pals never crashed, in addition to their current reality. The two hour premiere skips back and forth between these two realities (or whatever, I'm calling them realities and it's my damn blog) showing "what is" and "what also is", for lack of a better term.

On the island, we've got Sayid still gutshot, Sawyer super pissed at Jack, Kate trying to keep some kind of peace, Jin...found a flashlight, and Hurley talks to the ghost of Jacob, who tells him how to save Sayid. Before that, they have to rescue Juliet who has inexplicably managed to survive all Baby Jessica-style at the bottom of the shaft. Juliet dies, sadly, and Sawyer makes Miles talk to her ghost, who just says "It worked".

Hey, maybe they just exist both in the past, and in the present. Maybe they meet the versions of themselves that have been in the 70's this whole time! Whoo! Theories! Remember kids, "what happened, happened".

Anyway, so they make it to the temple, where Hurley's guitar case contains...a big wooden ankh. That mysterious Chinese-talking dude snaps in twain to reveal a note inside. The note seems to establish the group's bona fides, and they go in to dunk Sayid in the magic life water (not to be confused with SoBe Life Water), only for it not to work. Sad day.

Okay, so in the "present", Jack gets called to the bathroom to help save an unconscious Charlie (whoo!!! Charlie!!!) who is choking on...wait for it...his Bag O' Heroin! The plane lands, Charlie's led off in cuffs, Locke has heart to heart chats with Boone (!) and later, Jack. Locke is still in the wheelchair, by the way. Kate escapes from custody, and the airline loses Jack's luggage...the big wooden one containing his dead dad. Not going too much into this part so far, mainly because I don't know what the hell it's leading to. Bold move for the premiere though.

Okay, so in the past, Locke has totally killed Jacob with the help of Ben. Richard is outside with the Shadow of the Statue gang, and a few of them come inside to see what's going on. They take a couple of shots at Locke who HOLY SHIT LOCKE IS THE SMOKE MONSTER!!!!!! One of the SotS'ers pulls out a bag of mystery sand and makes a circle out of it to keep the smoke monster out, but the smoke monster is JUST TOO SMART and knocks a big rock free and uses that to knock the dude out of his CoP:Black.

The temple people hear that Jacob is dead and freak right out. They barricade the doors and launch some fireworks, which Richard sees all the way over at the Foot. Jacob picks that time to exit and he goes all Chuck Norris on Richard, picking him up and dragging him off...passing right by the dirty dead body of John Locke.

Oh, and then Sayid comes back to life.

So, business as usual for Lost; answering 2 or 3 questions while creating a dozen more. Well, not that many. Still, now next week we've got revived Sayid, Kate on the run, Locke carrying Richard, Sawyer and Miles are wandering somewhere, and Jack looks for his dead dad. All this, and more next week on...Lost.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Heroes is almost over!

Yes, the season finale of Heroes is eminent, which is odd considering how many things are left unanswered at this point, as well as how unlikely it seems that Heroes will be picked up, considering how expensive the cast must be getting and how bad the ratings have been. Still, stranger things have happened.

The crux of this episode was Peter and Sylar's Excellent Adventure, hanging out in Sylar's mental prison (courtesy of temporary badass Matt Parkman) and having a little bonding time. Per Sylar, every hour spent there feels like a year, so they spend roughly nine years swinging away at a wall with a sledgehammer before finally starting to put their differences aside and escape. Honestly, the storyline was interesting in concept, but fairly dull in resolution. Peter and Sylar have been the tentpoles of the show ever since the big Season 1 showdown, and so giving them this much time to just talk is both overdue, and just weird considering how many other things are going on. Maybe I've just been burned too many times on "Sylar turns over a new leaf", so I'll believe it when I see it...and then still not believe it because they can just turn him evil again on a whim, like they always seem to do.

Meanwhile, the Claire/HRG storyline boils down to a lot of flashbacks (cause hey, Company Man was awesome, right?), and we get the MOST CLICHE'D ORIGIN STORY EVER for how Noah turned into HRG. Oh my goodness, his wife was murdered by a special! Lame, even by Heroes standards.

Samuel has a chat with Blonde Agent, has a chat with Claire, and announces plans to go to...wait for it...New York City. Sigh. Wake me when it's over. He buries Claire and HRG in a trailer to end the episode on what passes for a cliffhanger these days. I can't work up any more interest than this, I swear.

How I Met Your Mother, on the other hand, was much better, focusing on Barney's quest for The Perfect Week. Having Jim Nantz as a framing device was great, as were the sports metaphors running through the episode. It was a light and fluffy episode, plenty of good gags (the "Cook Pu" joke in particular), and the kicker was the very end as Ted speculates about telling this story to his kids, followed by "Am I a bad father?" to finish it all off. Not much else to say, just a funny half hour of TV. And I'm distracted by the pending return of Lost.

I love you, Lost!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Burn Notice!!!

Good episode this week, featuring some backstory on Sam, and we finally get to meet the mysterious Gilroy. Client O' The Week is Sam's former SEAL buddy Mack, former being because Mack was making time with Sam's ex-wife. Isn't the Navy motto "Bros before Hos"? Actually, from what I've heard of the Navy, that may be truer than I thought.

***Note to Navy people: Please don't kill me***

Anywho, Mack is tracking a Very Bad Man to Miami and needs help to find and apprehend him. Michael figures that the best way to search a tight-knit gang-run village is to get the local gang leader involved, so Michael puts on my favorite cover identity to date; "Lewis", a guy who dresses like the devil and blows stuff up when he snaps his fingers. Very badass, and it reminds us that Mr. Weston is using great restraint considering the things he is capable of.

Anyway, recruiting the gang boss leads to the gang boss (who is more of a nice, Robin Hood type of gang boss) to have some trouble with DANNY FUCKING TREJO (or "Machete", as you will know him soon), leading Michael have to grab the bad guy and stop the other bad guy in order to make things right with the not so bad guy in the end. A little more complicated than most of the other plans work out, but we got a sweet face-first rappelling/gunfight scene, so I'm not going to complain.

Also by the end of the episode, Gilroy decides that Michael is his kind of co-worker, and Michael makes time for some sweet love making with dear Fiona. Not quite sure where that's leading to, but if it stops the bickering, I'm all for it.

Also of note: Jon Hamm did an admirable job hosting Saturday Night Live this week, featuring a great restaurant ad with him and Michael Buble, as well as the first case of sketch continuity I can remember since Buckwheat was shot.

Coming up: Sunday animation, Heroes, and Castle, and I hope a new How I Met Your Mother. So much to watch, so little time.